If there was a picture next to a definition of a “master teacher,” Kimberley DeNeefe’s would be the one.
And now she has the award to prove it.
A first-grade teacher at Trinity Christian Academy, DeNeefe was one of 35 teachers from the region who was honored earlier this year by Weatherford College for its annual Jack Harvey Academy of Exemplary Teachers.
“I was really surprised and humbled,” DeNeefe said after hearing she’d been nominated by TCA’s Elementary Principal Dr. Steven Newby and ultimately selected.
Celebrating its 25th year, the Harvey Academy recognizes exemplary teachers in memory of Professor Emeritus Jack Harvey, a WC teacher for 23 years who passed away in 1995, was highly regarded as a “master teacher.”
“Kimberley just fit the description perfectly,” Newby said of why he nominated her for the honor. “She is someone who works with the children before and after class when she doesn’t have to.”
DeNeefe has been teaching for 21 years and is in her fifth year at TCA. She said she has always loved teaching.
“I know that this is exactly what God has called me to do and He has given me the tools to not only lead the children down the roads of increasing their knowledge but to have a lot of fun as they grow,” she said.
Newby said students in other grade levels and who have been taught by DeNeefe always want to stop by and say hello, some many years later.
“She doesn’t mind one bit and is always very approachable,” he said.
One of DeNeefe’s favorite parts of teaching, she said, was building relationships with the children and their parents.
“I literally see each family as being part of my own, not only during that school year but after as well,” she said. “Being on the same page with the parents and having open lines of communication helps us to work together and this allows the kids to grow academically, emotionally and spiritually.”
And she added that the “hugs from current and past students are priceless!”
Newby said he was “excited” to be able to be the one to deliver the news on the award to DeNeefe, mostly because he knew she deserved it but also because he wanted to see her reaction.
DeNeefe attended a ceremony at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center where the keynote speaker was Eric Hale, a State of Texas Master Teacher, the 2021 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and the state representative for the 2021 National Teacher of the Year awards, to receive her honor. While Newby wasn’t able to attend, he said he was glad DeNeefe got the recognition she deserved.
“Kimberley epitomizes everything we stand for at TCA and she is a jewel to have on our staff,” Newby said.